The people’s game

Tickets for next year’s World Cup finals have gone on sale, with FIFA expecting demand to rival Germany 2006. despite a ticket for the final set to cost £632.

Fans are able to apply for tickets via FIFA’s official website, with approximately 3.3 million tickets available for the tournament.

Prices to attend matches range from £58 for a first round match to £632 to watch the final, which takes place at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

There is a cheaper option, but this remains open to Brazilian citizens over the age of 60, all of whom will be able to purchase tickets for as low as £15  - prices that will also be available to local students.

“It’s always difficult to predict,” FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said. “But I truly believe that it will be more toward to what happened in Germany than in South Africa in 2010.”

According to FIFA, the 2006 World Cup was attended by more than 3.3 million fans. Almost two million tickets were sold to the general public in South Africa, although the number of applications during the first ticketing phase was significantly lower.

BBC World Service carried out a study, called the Price of Football – World Cup 2014, which looked at the ticket prices and the cost of travelling to Brazil. It found that British fans face hotel costs of between £46 and £797 a night, while packages range from £2,999 to £14,999.

That breaks down as follows:

  • Ticket: £58-£112
  • Final ticket: £281-£632
  • Hotel: £146-£797 per night
  • McDonald’s meal: £11
  • Average dinner: £29
  • T-shirt: £13
  • Sun cream: £9.50
  • Water: £1.28
  • Imported beer: £3.83
  • Domestic beer: £1.91
  • Coffee: £2.55

The Bard of Sunderland

Sunderland have suspended Phil Bardsley after the defender mocked the club’s opening day Premier League home defeat to Fulham on a social media site.

It is the latest breakdown in relationships between Bardsley and manager Paolo Di Canio, who has told the 27-year-old to stay away from the club’s matches and training ground while the club investigates the incident.

A header from Pajtim Kasami gave visitors Fulham a 1-0 win, before Bardsley posted tweeted: “Great opening day. Hahahhahaha hahahhaha!!!”. The account has now been deleted.

Bardsley fell out of favour with Di Canio when he was photographed in a casino with £50 notes towards the end of last season.

Di Canio stated Bardsley would never play for the club under him again and the defender was not issued a squad number for the new Premier League season.

Bardsley has been linked with a move to Fulham, although his chances of a move were hindered last week when the full-back suffered a broken foot while playing for the Under-21s.

Won’t somebody please think of the children!

Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also head of the country’s 2018 World Cup organising committee, has accused western media of distorting the anti-gay issue that has caused such consternation among athletes, officials, politicians and activists.

Legislation prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” has provoked an international backlash amid growing concern over both the winter Olympics in Sochi next year and the World Cup.

FIFA last week said it has now officially asked the 2018 World Cup hosts to explain more fully the contentious new law, asking for “clarification and more details”, and reminded the country of its obligation to abide by anti-discrimination protocol.

The new bill punishes “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” with fines that can exceed $30,000. Significantly, foreign visitors violating the legislation face up to 15 days in jail and deportation.

But Mutko insists the legislation is not solely about homosexuality but also to protect Russian youth from “drugs, drinking and non-traditional relationships”, whatever that means

“I think the Western mass media focus on this law much more than we do in Russia,” Mutko said.

“I have had to reply to this question on several occasions these past few days,” he said. “I repeat again this law does not deprive anyone of their rights. I haven’t heard of one incident here. This is an invented problem. We don’t have a ban on non-traditional relationships.

“This law is about protection of the young generation whose psyche has not yet been formulated and formed and before they have reached maturity. It is to protect them against drinking, drugs and non-traditional sexual relationships. This law is all about protecting the rights of children and not to deprive anyone of anything.”

Whatever the law may be about is up for debate; but what is clear, though, is that it has given a green light to those who pursue a violently anti-gay agenda. That is something that no decent society should be happy about.

Boys from Brazil

On the subject of homophobia, Corinthians striker Emerson Sheik has been forced to apologise after he was photographed kissing another man.

The 34-year-old forward had an Instagram picture go viral in the past few days after it showed him kissing another man on the lips.

The picture was taken on Sunday night as Emerson Sheik, his girlfriend and some other friends went out for dinner.  The other man in the image is the the restaurant’s head chef Izac Azar, who is a close friend of Emerson.

Yet the image provoked a furious response from Brazilian homophobes, some of whom carried banners displaying their outrage.

“Football is a very macho world,” said Emerson. “I want to make it absolutely clear that I have not done anything to offend anyone. If someone felt otherwise, I’m sorry. This was Emerson the person, not Emerson the footballer.

“I’m very fond of Izac, which means a lot to me. His wife is nine months pregnant. The fans reacted in a negative way. They responded with prejudice.”

Still it could be worse – if he lived in Russia he could now be looking at a $30,000 fine.

Goal of the day

Muhammet Demir came up with an amazing overhead kick for Gaziantepspor against Galatasaray.

Save of the day

Francisco Casilla pulled off a miraculous save in Espanyol against Celta Vigo.

The save was reminiscent of Gordon Banks famous save from Pele at the 1970 World Cup.

Quote of the day

“To our fans, I’m sorry if they have to pay money for this shit. It was an absolute disaster, a disastrous performance from anyone who was involved.”

Hamburg goalkeeper  Rene Adler has apologised to fans after their 5-1 thrashing at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Excuses have their uses…

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew says Arsenal’s bid for midfielder Yohan Cabaye had a “huge bearing” on his side’s 4-0 defeat at Manchester City.

The Gunners made a £10m bid for Cabaye on Sunday and Pardew withdrew the France international, 27, out of Monday’s Premier League opener.

“You prepare for three days with a player of that talent and that was taken away from us,” said Pardew.

“It had a huge bearing on the result as well.”

Cabaye travelled to Manchester with the Newcastle squad before Pardew sent him back to the North East following Arsenal’s offer being made public ahead of the City game.

“Why [Arsenal] couldn’t do us the respect and the honour of waiting until Tuesday evening is beyond me,” said Pardew.

Perhaps they saw it as an opportunity to unsettle one of their relegation rivals.

Pardew is also unhappy that the summer transfer window remains open after the start of the Premier League campaign and wants that changed. Anything to avoid discussing that 4-0 defeat.

“There is a question about the window being closed before we kick off the Premier League season,” he said.

“I know the Premier League asked the European leagues to do it and they wouldn’t fall in line.

“But after the summer we have had, the situations we have had, with Wayne Rooney as well, it is definitely something they need to put under the microscope again.”

One rule for for the rich…

Pardew did find some support from fellow Premier League manager Jose Mourinho, with the Chelsea boss admitting that the transfer window should not continue until the end of the month.

“At a certain point I agree with what Alan was saying, that the transfer window goes too far, the transfer window goes to the third, fourth fixture of the season, which I also agree that is too much,” Mourinho said.

“But at the same time it gives everybody a chance to be in the market while we are winning or losing points.

“We have conditions to try to improve our team by bringing in one more player and we are going to try that till the end.”

Naturally, an old hand like Mourinho was not letting his reservations about the transfer window get in the way of a belated bid for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

“You try, because nobody forbids you to try,” said Mourinho.

“When you think that you’d like to have one player and the market is open and the official bids are not forbidden, official bids are always accepted in an ethical way.

“Of course, the player’s owners they can do exactly what we did in relation to David Luiz and Barcelona.”

Coincidentally, though possibly not, Chelsea meet United on August 26.

The Portuguese admitted that he does have alternative options, but refused to name them while they belong to another club.

“We have plans B and C,” he admitted. “Don’t ask me names because it’s difficult to speak about players from other clubs.”

Unless, that club is Manchester United and the player is Wayne Rooney.

Finally…

Vitoria Setubal goalkeeper Pawel Kieszek’s moment of madness cost himself and his side in their opening fixture against reigning champions Porto.

After conceding a first half penalty, despatched adeptly by Josue, the goalscorer tried to retrieve the ball and became embroiled in a melee with the Polish keeper.

Josue pushed Kieszek, who responded with a head-butt before falling theatrically to the floor as if he was the victim.

The referee wasn’t to be fooled though, handing out a deserved red card to Kieszek.

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